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New season, tactical madness, same old Arsenal

 

Arsenal face another season of underachievement following back-to-back league defeats.

There was a noticeable gulf in class as the Gunners were thumped 4-0 by Liverpool on Sunday.

The fans are growing increasingly disillusioned with problems mounting on and off the pitch.

After a summer in which want-away players have taken to picking up convenient ‘injuries’ to rule them out of early Premier League action, it was certainly curious to see both Alexis Sanchez and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain start for Arsenal at Anfield.

It was a move by Ar,sene Wenger that backfired spectacularly especially if you consider the fact that he left his £53m club record striker Alexandre Lacazette, who had a bright start to the season, on the bench at Anfield.

Shkodran Mustafi, a £35m defender signed from Valencia last summer, sat on the bench while Rob Holding, a bright talent but mercilessly over-exposed on Sunday, endured a most awful afternoon. It is an almighty mess and much of it is of the club’s own making.

Liverpool were devastating and clinical on the counter-attack but to be frank: this is not a new trick against Wenger’s side.

Jurgen Klopp’s men whizzed from back to front with such ruthless zip that a couple of goals felt more like ice-hockey attacks than Premier League football. Mo Salah’s goal saw Liverpool score within 12 seconds of Arsenal’s corner.

We need only recall several games at the Emirates Stadium between Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United between 2009 and 2012, when the visitors soaked up pressure, allowed Arsenal ball in harmless areas and then savaged Wenger’s side on the counter-attack.

Wenger simply has not adapted. He may have altered his formation in the past six months to a 3-4-2-1 made popular by Antonio Conte last season but his players remain ill-disciplined and under-instructed in these big games.

We can recall one terrific Arsenal win at Manchester City a couple of years ago when it appeared Wenger may be learning but this can now be dismissed as a one-off.

The midfield was wide open, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey neglected their defensive responsibilities and the back three was torn apart.

The tactical naivety has a clear knock-on effect with results. Arsenal’s away record against the established top six teams is simply dire.

In their last 25 away games against Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, Arsenal have won three, drawn seven and lost 16. Sixteen points out of a possible 75.

The sorry truth is all these sides will face more resistance from a West Brom or Southampton coming to visit. Far from a game to worry about, Arsenal coming to town is a dream for the top teams.

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